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School trip to Amazon for Sierra students?

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POSTED January 31, 2014 1:45 a.m.

Two-dozen Sierra High School students could be experiencing a life-changing two-week experience during the summer of 2015 in the Peruvian Amazon.

But that’s up to the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees to decide at a future date.

The proposal to take 24 Sierra High students to the upper Peruvian Amazon “for two weeks of Biodiversity research and training with Operation Wallacea” was presented to the board by Larry Grimes, Sierra’s Science Department Chair who teaches Biology, Physiology, and AP Biology. He was accompanied by Lisa Snyder, a science teacher also at Sierra, and Kathy Brown, vice principal of Great Valley Elementary School in Weston Ranch. All three would serve as chaperones for the 24 student.

Grimes holds two doctorate degrees – philosophy of science and science education. Snyder and Brown hold master’s degrees in science education.

Outlining the activities in which the students will be involved in Operation Wallacea, Grimes explained that the young participants “will be trained in biodiversity data acquisition procedures in support of the United Nations Education, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biodiversity Hotspot Designation under the supervision of research professors at Oxford University and Research Staff at Operation Wallacea,”

Additionally, he said, “Students will complete an Amazonian Wildlife and Conservation Course while working on actual research vessel on the Amazon River and interacting with and cataloging indigenous species such as Pink River Dolphins, Caimans, primates and tropical birds in a rainforest biome.”

They will also have an opportunity to visit a Cocama Indian community. Training and supervising the young students will be university researchers.

Grimes said they are targeting student participants who are currently in their sophomore year. The interview process involved will include assessment as to the students’ vocation interests which will be used as the basis for the selection of the 24 core group.

Each participant will need $3,800 to be part of the traveling team. Having the proposal approved this early leading up to the 2015 planned Peruvian Amazon trip will provide ample time for the students to conduct fund-raising activities to help with their expenses, Grimes said.

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